Last Call: Digital Marketing News for March 1, 2021

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Australia passes news content law after battles with Facebook, Google; Facebook will reverse news block in Australia; Snapchat Now Reaches 70% of 13 to 24 Year Olds and Facebook updates Ads Manager for SMBs.

Australia passes news content law after battles with Facebook, Google

By Noah Manskar

The New York Post is reporting Australia’s parliament officially passed a landmark law Thursday effectively forcing tech titans to pay for news content following intense public opposition from Facebook and Google.

The first-of-its-kind measure cleared its last hurdle when the parliament approved a set of amendments made to appease Facebook, which blocked Australian users from viewing or sharing news articles last week.

Aussie lawmakers said the law that’s set to go into effect will address the “bargaining power imbalance” between tech platforms and news publishers even though its final form gives Facebook and Google more leeway to negotiate.

“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public interest journalism in Australia,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement.

Officials pushed the law forward even after Facebook imposed a roughly five-day news blackout in Australia, an unprecedented move that sparked widespread outrage.

Google had similarly threatened to shut off its search engine in Australia if the proposal became law, but the Silicon Valley giant ended up taking the more conciliatory approach of making deals with publishers including News Corp., which owns The Post.

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Facebook will reverse news block in Australia

By Daniel Van Boom

CNET is reporting that in the face of an Australian bill that would force Facebook to pay publishers for the news content that surfaces on its platform, the social-networking giant last week made a dramatic move, pulling all news from its platform Down Under. After several days of discussion between Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Australia’s treasurer Josh Frydenberg, the social media giant on Monday announced an end to the standoff, bringing news back to its platform.

“After further discussions with the Australian government, we have come to an agreement that will allow us to support the publishers we choose to, including small and local publishers,” said Campbell Brown, head of Facebook’s Global News Partnerships division, said in a statement. “We’re restoring news on Facebook in Australia in the coming days.”

Facebook will bring news back to Australia not out of generosity but rather because it says it got sufficient concessions from the government. Frydenberg and Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher pledged on Monday to make changes to the News Media Bargaining Code, the contentious bill in question, which they assured will “strengthen the hand of regional and small publishers.”

Facebook’s blockade meant that, since last Wednesday, news has vanished from the platform in Australia. Brand pages for outlets like CNET or The New York Times went completely blank, while users were restricted from posting news content. The feeds of Australia’s 11 million users have been completely bereft of news. It was a scattershot approach for Facebook, with multiple non-news pages, like the Bureau of Meteorology and South Australia Health, also having their pages wiped clean.

Under the proposed bill, Facebook and Google would be made to negotiate with local publishers over payment for the news content that surfaces on Facebook’s feed and Google’s search results. If no agreement could be reached in 90 days, government-appointed arbitrators would hand down a binding compensation agreement. Publishers would also need to be given advanced notice of changes to algorithms that would affect how their content is ordered and prioritized.

After balking in February and threatening to pull search out of Australia, Google has since made several big-money deals with publishers. That includes Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and local giant Nine Entertainment, two of the biggest companies to lobby for the bill. But just as Google agreed to join the negotiating table, Facebook went the other way, blocking news with no warning. 

It may not be the last time, either. In her Monday statement, Brown noted that Facebook reserves the right to pull news at a future date if the social media giant feels it’s being subjected to unfair treatment.

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Snapchat Now Reaches 70% of 13 to 24 Year Olds

By Matt Southern

SearchEngineJournal is reporting that Snapchat is now reaching over 70% of 13 to 24 year olds in the world’s most lucrative digital ad markets.

The company revealed this information to shareholders on Snapchat’s first-ever investor day on Tuesday, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Snapchat is where marketers need to be if their goal is to reach an audience of Gen Z consumers with targeted advertising.

The “Snapchat Generation,” as the company refers to it when speaking to shareholders, makes up 40% of global consumers. Roughly 80% of this audience is above the age of 18.

Snapchat shared these stats with shareholders:

  • Snapchat users open the app an average of 30 times a day.
  • Those who have used AR filters to try on products are 2.4 times more likely to convert.
  • The company expects 50% annual growth in revenue every year for the next few years.

Snapchat says it will meet its projections for 50% year-over-year revenue growth by building new ad products.

Currently, Snapchat’s revenue is driven primarily by vertical video ads that play between users’ stories.

Rather than making those ads more prevalent, Snapchat is exploring ways to insert ads in other high traffic sections of the app.

Snapchat will soon let businesses run ads in the Snap Map and the new Spotlight video platform.

Jeremi Gorman, Snap Inc’s chief business officer, says there are currently over 35 million businesses on the Snap Map. Those are all potential ad customers when the new advertising option rolls out.

The company believes it’s strongly positioned to benefit from augmented reality trends over the coming years. More AR-based ad products, such as branded filters that allow users to virtually try on products, are said to be in the works.

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Facebook updates Ads Manager for SMBs

Search Engine Land is reporting that Facebook launched their “Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found” initiative last week to help SMBs with more personalized ads. With more local businesses moving online due to the pandemic, the goal is to help make social media marketing more accessible. Updates for SMBs include the following:

  • A simplified Ads Manager so SMBs can understand campaign performance and make optimizations faster
  • Waived fees for businesses selling with Checkout on Shops through June 2021 and waived fees for paid online events until at least August 2021
  • New options to note what type of dining experiences are available at restaurants
  • A new menu tab for restaurants on Pages so businesses can upload their menu directly to their Page
  • An updated Business Resource hub on Facebook and Professional Dashboard on Instagram with more information on how personalized ads work

“Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content Marketing is showing the world you are one.” 

Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Officer, The Content Advisory

About Digital Marketing Happy Hour: Last Call

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